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Better data for SDG 4: recent methodological developments

Wed, April 17, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific I

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session


Inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all, the objective of Sustainable Development Goal 4, are essential for the achievement of sustainable development. The official monitoring framework for SDG 4 - Education 2030 consists of 43 indicators that provide information on pre-primary, primary and secondary education; technical, vocational and tertiary education; literacy and numeracy; skills for employment; equity; global citizenship; safe schools; scholarships; and teachers. For effective education sector planning and monitoring of progress towards these targets, policy makers, donors and other stakeholders need reliable and up-to-date data. However, data coverage is currently incomplete because some SDG 4 indicators require further methodological development, while other indicators are characterized by limited data availability.

This panel gathers experts in education statistics who will present recent work related to three targets under SDG 4 that should be achieved by 2030: 4.1 (ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes), 4.5 (eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations), and 4.6 (ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy).

Suguru Mizunoya will present data for SDG 4 collected with new modules of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) by UNICEF. The Foundational Learning Skills module addresses a critical data gap in SDG indicator 4.1.1(a) by collecting data that enhance global understanding of educational outcomes, focusing on minimum proficiency in reading and numeracy at early grades (2 and 3). The new Parental Involvement module assesses educational environments of children and parental involvement in learning. Finally, the new Child Functioning module developed by UNICEF and the Washington Group on Disability Statistics collects data on child functioning/disability, which is among the dimensions for disaggregation of education indicators specified in SDG target 4.5.

Bilal Barakat will present a new approach to increase the availability of data for SDG target 4.1 on school completion and target 4.5 on equal access. Many household surveys are conducted every three to five years and the data used to calculate completion rates and other indicators are often several years old. For several indicators, multiple surveys are available and may provide conflicting information due to differences in sampling frames or in the way questions are asked. The author presents a model to generate estimates of school completion rates from multiple sources and demonstrates their robustness and superiority over more simplistic approaches. A key output of the model are ‘nowcasts’ of current school completion rates that consistently take advantage of all available survey information.

Scott Murray will present work related to SDG target 4.6 that stipulates that all adults should possess adequate levels of literacy skill. Despite literacy’s profound impact on labour productivity and GDP growth, the overwhelming majority of countries rely on unreliable proxies of skill, including years of education and self-assessments of skill, which impairs public policy formation and distorts investment decisions. The author explores whether the gap in literacy data can be filled with model-based estimates that use the relationships between literacy skills and demographic characteristics observed in the background questionnaire of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Although less reliable than the results of an actual assessment of literacy skills, the modelled estimates are significantly less expensive and more reliable than the proxies they replace.

Together, the presentations offer a variety of approaches to improve the availability of data for monitoring of progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4.

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